Not quite kicking.

All the medical supposition in earlier messages was just that and now a new round of theories is making its way around the circuits. I’m out of hospital, functional, but not yet ready to get back to writing. More tests over the coming days and weeks.

At least it’s good to know what I don’t have!

April:27:2010 - 16:05 | Comments & Trackbacks (50) | Permalink

Hospital jello
…Pneumonia … Bloodclot…bother

April:21:2010 - 17:31 | Comments & Trackbacks (32) | Permalink

Well, I’m definitely healing, but not well yet. I did lose a good 10kg, though, but now have to start eating. Also using muscles (like fingers) that have been on the shelf for the five days. Soon…

April:19:2010 - 13:13 | Comments & Trackbacks (15) | Permalink

Well, I’m not dead, but I’m not well. Some sort of flu with a high fever, headaches, and diminished ability to walk in a straight line. Definitely healing, though, so I hope to be back, if not tomorrow, then early in the week.

April:17:2010 - 19:25 | Comments & Trackbacks (10) | Permalink

Sorry, I’m a bit under the weather today. After 24-hours worth of sleep yesterday, I’m still not up to putting words in a row with much coherence. I hope to be back tomrrow.

April:16:2010 - 07:04 | Comments & Trackbacks (10) | Permalink

Writing in Arab News, this Saudi columnist is having a hard time finding any difference between the way many Saudis treat their domestic workers and the chattel slavery that reigned in the American South before the Civil War. And no, there’s no hyperbole here…

Cotton fields in Saudi Arabia

Homemade and homebred: Our cotton fields are no fig of fiction but real!

Take a peek with “thine own eyes”! There is a whole variety of them in each of our own vicinities! Or even better, meet those whose stubbed, scarred and scabbed fingers are the “proof of the cotton-picking pudding”!

Take Zakir and Bilal for example, who have come all the way from Bangladesh for the pleasure of cleaning our street cotton fields. So loyal they are, that they work round the clock (according to my honest-to-God 16-hour stake out – until sleep ran me over. When and where were they dropped off or picked up from? God knows).

So content, healthy, fulfilled, well-fed, well-housed, well-clothed etc., they are, that they can go months without their SR700 salaries (yes, I admit the sum most likely is exaggerated here) unneeded by their families back home who are also so content, healthy, fulfilled, well-fed, well-housed, well-clothed!

They are super beings (possible Superman descendants? Fictional fig or not!) feeding on scraps (so affordable even without the exaggerated SR700!) lest they outgrow their cotton field purple gowns costing us to inconveniently accommodate their grand bodies!

April:15:2010 - 09:12 | Comments & Trackbacks (7) | Permalink

‘The 99′ is an Islamic-based comic book that first appeared some five years ago. Its popularity has grown in a variety of Islamic countries and has been made into an animated TV cartoon in Europe and perhaps soon to be appearing on American TV screen. ‘The Atlantic’ magazine has an article about the struggle of the cartoons to find a place in the hearts and minds of children around the world.

In the discussion, an interesting point is raised. Traditional ‘superheroes’ tend to be individuals, with individual talents, that form models to which children aspire. One critic notes that by having 99 superheroes, the effect is too dispersed. There is no one to emulate because all of the various qualities are divided out among the group.

Super Muslims
Suzy Hansen

On especially thick and gritty days in Kuwait, everything must be done indoors—in cars, malls, hotels, or office buildings. Often, it’s not until you’re in one of those violently air-conditioned high-rise office buildings that you can take in the whole of Kuwait City: urban cylinders of silver and black improbably growing out of nothingness. It’s a strangely drab backdrop for the hyperkinetic Naif al-Mutawa, who sat in a nice tan suit on a couch, and spoke with great enthusiasm and speed. On the walls of his office hung drawings of multicolored characters from his brainchild: The 99, a comic book rooted in Islam that has recently been recast into an animated television series, which may debut in the United States this fall.

“When I gave the direction to the writers in Hollywood for the animation series,” he was saying, “I told them, ‘Only when Jewish kids think these heroes are Jewish, and Christian kids think they’re Christian, will we have achieved something—which is universality.’ Too many people find differences and fight about them. Not enough people are talking about the things that are the same.”

April:14:2010 - 08:06 | Comments & Trackbacks (4) | Permalink

The Washington Post runs this piece on some of the families of the five American men now facing trial in Pakistan on terrorism-related charges. The families are utterly mystified about how their sons, all raised in the US and apparently adapted to American values, suddenly showed up in Pakistan, suddenly turned into Islamic extremists.

The youth leader at the youth center of the Islamic Circle of North America, where the youths participated in programs, is equally puzzled. They were pious, but not extremist, he says.

I think it will be very interesting if the Pakistani court, where they will face trial, can learn how they were recruited and whether they were actually interested in taking part in terrorism or saw it all as a lark.

Parents of alleged terrorists seek clues
to sons’ disappearance to Pakistan
Brigid Schulte

On the Saturday morning in late November when Ahmed Abdullah Minni left his Alexandria home, quite possibly forever, he did his family’s weekly grocery shopping as usual. He bought the snacks his mother needs for the award-winning preschool she runs out of their tidy blue home. He stocked up on his favorite treats: Florida orange juice with no pulp, the oatmeal cookies and rice pudding. He carefully stacked the provisions in the fridge and kitchen cabinets.

He put on latex gloves — his family jokingly calls him “Mr. Neat” — and sorted the laundry for his mother. Around 3 p.m., he walked to the mosque just down the street for prayers with his father and brothers.

Then he vanished. To Pakistan. An American kid on jihad.

Around 5 p.m., his mother became worried. This was not like him. This was not the son she considered her right hand, the one who had called her from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond several times a day when he was a freshman, just to let her know he was going to class. This was not the son who transferred to Northern Virginia Community College last fall because, he said, he missed her and his family. This was not her Hamada, her nickname for him, who called her even if he was right across Route 1 at Wal-Mart, just to check in and find out if she needed anything.

“Where are you?” she demanded when he picked up his cellphone.

He told her he was in Maryland at a conference. He would be home Sunday evening.

“You better come home right now!” she said, furious that he would leave without permission. She started compiling a mental list of chores, such as raking leaves, with which she would punish him. She hung up. That was Nov. 28. She hasn’t heard his voice since.

This Saturday, Minni, who turned 20 shortly after disappearing, and four other friends from Northern Virginia, Umar Chaudhry, 24; Ramy Zamzam, 22; Waqar Khan, 22; and Aman Hassan Yemer, 18, will appear before a Pakistani judge on five counts each of terrorism-related charges.

April:14:2010 - 07:56 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Writing in the Arabic daily Eqtisadiah, here translated by Arab News, Turki Al-Dakheel notes with dismay how badly many Saudis treat their housemaids. Rather than a functional part of the household, he argues, too many see them as mere accessories, things to which women can point to show that they’re up there somewhere on the social scale. Their treatment is utterly improper, against human rights, and against Islamic norms he says. The way they are treated isn’t even in line with Bedouin ethics.

He point out, too, that many Saudis are confused about what is traditional practice and what is called for by Islam. He’d like to see the cruelty stopped.

Torturing housemaids
Turki Al-Dakheel — Eqtisadiah

DO we consider the housemaid to be a human being? Or is she just a machine like a washing machine and a refrigerator? Some of us, because of excessive laziness and a disdain of doing what we consider easy jobs, cannot do without a housemaid even if there are no children in the house.

The housemaid in this case will be used as something to brag about. She will drag herself behind the husband and wife carrying the shopping bags. This has become the typical picture of a Saudi family, whether large or small. Ostentatiousness is a disease eating away at our society. The main purpose of hiring a housemaid is so the wife can boast of having a servant who blindly obeys her orders.

The poor housemaid may not be paid her salary for months. Her passport will be locked away from her. She will be forced to sleep in a room even dogs would shy from. She may constantly lose her precious things.

Is this not a frightening brutality? The bad treatment of housemaids is totally against human rights and international norms.

April:14:2010 - 07:45 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

Unemployment for Saudi youth is a serious and growing problem. The government has undertaken various programs an initiatives to place Saudis (primarily males) into jobs, but a variety of factors have complicated the task. Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that a government training/subsidization fund is not succeeding. The ‘Hadaf’ development fund is seeing 75% of its placements fail. The Ministry of Labor says this is due to shortcoming on the part of the management of the employing companies and too-harsh expectations. With no information in the article to support or undermine that interpretation, we’ll take the Ministry’s word.

The article also points to some of the companies contracted with by the Ministry to provide placement and training whose actual operations seem more like scams to separate the government from its money while doing nothing to help Saudis find jobs.

Hadaf failed to secure jobs for Saudis: Official
Fahd Al-Dhiyabi

RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor’s Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) has failed to make 200,000 Saudi nationals permanent employees in the private sector, with 75 percent of them leaving their jobs due to “poor management at some companies and excesses in evaluation”.

According to sources at Hadaf, over SR1.7 billion had been reserved for them in salary support, which currently stands at a minimum of SR1500 per month. The Ministry of Labor is reportedly considering raising the figure for persons with university qualifications to help private companies retain Saudi staff and provide incentives for stability.

April:14:2010 - 07:25 | Comments Off | Permalink

Writing in Asharq Alawsat, Turki Al-Saheil writes about talks now taking place in both the Shoura Council and the Council of Senior Ulema to make the issuance of takfiri fatwas a defined crime. Takfiri fatwas declare that someone is not a Muslim. Not only is that person declared to be a non-believer, but he is also subject to being killed by anyone who claims to be upholding the virtue of Islam. In a culture in which religion is tightly interwoven with daily life, being declared a non-Muslim is not just an exercise in rhetoric.

The wild, ‘cowboy’ issuing of fatawa does distort Islam and it damages the Saudi state. One Shoura Council member is quoted as saying that even though the clerics issuing these fatwas have no connection to the Saudi state, they are still identified as ‘Saudi Arabian religious clerics’, and bring down the reputation of all Saudi clerics. An example raised in the article is that of the clerics who issued fatwas claiming that the public mixing of the sexes was haram, i.e., strictly forbidden by Islam, and to permit this mixing was to put oneself outside the fold of the Islamic nation or umma.

Calls to Criminalize Takfiri Fatwas
Turki Al-Saheil

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi Arabia’s Senior Ulema Council is currently holding closed-door sessions to discuss two important issues affecting the kingdom; the financing of terrorism, and Takfiri fatwas.

Last week, another closed-door session held by the Saudi Shura Council discussed calls to criminalize Takfiri fatwas that are issued from outside the official religious institute in order to put an end to the issuance of such fatwas that have been on the rise in recent years. Takfiri fatwas are fatwas or religious advisory opinions that state that a certain practice or act is haram or religiously impermissible and that anybody who takes part in such practices is not a Muslim.

Sources close to one of the members of the Senior Ulema Council stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that the sessions being held by the council in Riyadh are “secret and extraordinary,” while another source at the Senior Ulema Council explained that the meetings, which commenced on Saturday and will end today Monday 12 April, will discuss the criminalization of the “Takfiri fatwas,” and the “financing of terrorism.”

April:13:2010 - 07:02 | Comments & Trackbacks (7) | Permalink

In this editorial in Asharq Alawsat, Editor-in-Chief Tariq Alhomayed argues that the Arab world is in dire need of some introspection. While various sources calling for temperance in discourse, society seems to turn a deaf ear. People seems to be able to turn anything into a shouting match or a fist fight. The lack of tolerance can be seen in classrooms and in the violent actions of those who seek to justify terrorism. The cause of all this, Alhomayed argues, is unsound education. Professors, he says, aren’t professional. Instead of educating students, they seek to convert them to particular ideologies. Nor is there accountability in either private or public life. He points to the example of Saddam Hussein. While he may no longer be on the scene, the hundreds and thousands who accepted gifts from him still are, with not a whisper that they might share in his guilt through enabling and supporting him.

Why Don’t We Admit the Truth?
Tariq Alhomayed

There is a defect in our ethical system, and it’s one of values, there is also a defect in our culture system, and it’s one of education. We are not good at managing disputes and dialogue, despite the fact that we hide behind a mountain of slogans and proverbs and verses of poetry, all of which say that there should be civility in disputes, hostility, and even war.

Clashes and political crises take place as a result of football games, and there are insults and abuse in the newspapers, in the corridors of politics and even at Arab Summits, and those who tell lies do so without being held accountable or removed from the scene. Saddam Hussein was removed from power however none of his agents in the Arab world have followed him; none of those who accepted oil coupons, or even any of those who accepted a case of whiskey from him as a gift. He died and we forgot all about them and they remained on the political and media scene…and there are no checks and balances.

April:13:2010 - 06:49 | Comments & Trackbacks (16) | Permalink
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